I was recently in a noon ZOOM meeting in Washington D.C. and the topic was insanity and all its forms (early sobriety and beyond). I heard some wonderful shares from the folks in this meeting but one woman’s share really stood out to me (likely because I could relate to it).
At one point during her share, she said as she was explaining what her insanity looked like in her life today and she used the phrase ,“I was dancing on the edge – on purpose.” BAM!!!! That hit me hard because I could totally relate to the idea that while I may know that what I am doing or feeling is wrong, not good for me, old behavior, etc., my untreated alcoholism at times simply cannot distinguish between the true and the false, the right and the wrong, the good and the bad.
“Men and women drink essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol. The sensation is so elusive that, while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate the true from the false. To them, their alcoholic life seems the only normal one. They are restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks—drinks which they see others taking with impunity. After they have succumbed to the desire again, as so many do, and the phenomenon of craving develops, they pass through the well-known stages of a spree, emerging remorseful, with a firm resolution not to drink again. This is repeated over and unless this person can experience an entire psychic change there is very little hope of his recovery.” – Alcoholics Anonymous, The Doctor’s Opinion, Page xxviii
While this quote from our Big Book talks about alcoholic insanity PRIOR to coming to the rooms of A.A., that same insanity can occur after we have put down the bottle – in fact, it will most likely occur if we continue (in sobriety) to always look for the “quick fix,” the easier softer way, or the shortcuts. I’m always needing to be alert, awake, and aware of what my triggers are – those things that make me choose to jump back into old behavior. Boredom is a trigger. Allowing myself to be easily influenced by others is a trigger. These are just a couple of things that can trigger my old ways of thinking, so I need to be awake to these things as they are happening so I can tap back into where my healthy mental and spiritual center are – my Higher Power.
How can today’s insane thinking lead me to a drink? Somewhere along the way I learned this:
“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
Watch your words, they become actions;
Watch your actions, they become habits;
Watch your habits, they become character;
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
Dancing on the edge of insanity is not where I want to be anymore. In January 1958, Bill W. wrote an amazing article for the Grapevine titled, “The Next Frontier: Emotional Sobriety” that ended with this…
“Thus I think it can work out with emotional sobriety. If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependency and its consequent unhealthy demand. Let us, with God’s help, continually surrender these hobbling demands. Then we can be set free to live and love; we may then be able to Twelfth Step ourselves and others into emotional sobriety.
Of course I haven’t offered you a really new idea—only a gimmick that has started to unhook several of my own “hexes” at depth. Nowadays my brain no longer races compulsively in either elation, grandiosity, or depression. I have been given a quiet place in bright sunshine.”